In an age dominated by AI and technology, the significance of human interaction remains evident, as highlighted by these statistics:
- 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them (Sprout Social).
- 75% of customers desire more interactions with real people as technology advances (PWC).
- Two-thirds of consumers who believe a business cares about their emotional state will likely become repeat customers (Zendesk).
At a psychological level, people want and need human connection, especially in this age of AI. But not just any connection. We know that when it comes to the customer experience (CX), there’s a lot that goes into a meaningful interaction. So, what specifically are people looking for from these encounters?
Let’s take a look at four reasons people still want human interaction in their customer journey.
1. Complex situations require human expertise
A key reason the need for human interaction endures is the complexity of modern-day scenarios that often necessitate human expertise. Guided CX solutions like cobrowsing and screen share, predominantly powered by human interaction, play a pivotal role in assisting individuals through intricate processes, such as applying for home loans or navigating health insurance. It effectively transforms seemingly frustrating digital journeys into high-value, face-to-face interactions, ensuring that individuals make well-informed decisions.
Interestingly, with advancements in technology, we've witnessed a surge in Guided CX sessions connecting customers with human agents. Between 2022 and 2023, Glance sessions increased by an impressive 75% compared to the previous two years. Even in the post-pandemic era, when consumers have become more accustomed to digital channels, the desire for human interaction has grown. This trend is particularly pronounced in industries that have heavily invested in digital CX channels in recent years, with healthcare experiencing a 135% increase and financial services a 136% rise in human-guided sessions.
2. Only humans can provide an emotional connection
Automation and algorithms, while proficient at handling routine tasks, frequently fall short in comprehending the complex emotions of customers. The emotional connection that only humans can provide fills this gap. Human interactions are imbued with empathy, compassion, and the ability to connect on a profound emotional level. These qualities are irreplaceable in forging trust, addressing sensitive issues, and nurturing genuine, long-lasting customer relationships.
Strong customer relationships are rooted in emotion. Nobel Prize winner Professor Daniel Kahneman says that people don’t choose between experiences. They choose between the memories of their experiences. A positive customer experience creates a positive memory — and that is invaluable.
"We do not choose between experiences. We choose between memories of experiences.” - Daniel Kahneman
3. Customers seek trust and accountability
AI often operates as a "black box," generating decisions that customers find challenging to interpret or comprehend. This lack of transparency can lead to uncertainty and mistrust among consumers. That’s why it’s essential — especially if leveraging AI in the customer journey — that humans are also present. People inherently prefer to conduct business with people they trust. Human agents offer transparency by clarifying the rationale behind AI-driven decisions. They also willingly shoulder responsibility for any errors or issues, providing a level of accountability that AI systems may struggle to match. This capacity to communicate and empathize is pivotal in rebuilding trust and assuring customers their concerns are acknowledged and addressed.
4. Humans are flexible
Humans possess the ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and provide tailored solutions, a trait that’s indispensable in delivering a superior customer experience. For instance, during disputes or conflicts, human representatives can employ negotiation skills and judgment to find mutually beneficial resolutions. This adaptability is crucial for upholding customer satisfaction and engendering loyalty.
In contrast, inflexibility triggers defensive customer interactions, leading to escalating demands. Flexible interactions prioritize customer satisfaction, with employee choices based on fair, reasoned discussions that make customers feel heard.
Prepare for the future of CX
The future may be undeniably digital, but the human touch remains indispensable in this digital world. As we move forward, it will be critical to balance AI and human interaction, using each at the right moments and in the right way to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Proactively position yourself for success — download our new report to explore the trends that are shaping the present and future of CX.